Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
I trust you are all enjoying the summer months, even as many adult students pursue summer course work and we anticipate our undergraduate students’ arrival back on Mt. Alvernia for the first day of classes on Aug. 25. If you detect a slight Irish brogue to complement my Boston accent, it is likely because I recently returned from the Emerald Isle having participated in an international symposium on Civic and Democratic Engagement in Belfast. The conference offered valuable insights on both European and American trends and validated the impressive work at Alvernia.
I was fortunate to be hosted by last year’s Irish exchange student, Michael Lavery, who provided a fascinating, if sobering, tour of his native city. Evidence of “The Troubles” still abounds. Yet assisted by Queens University, Belfast is beginning to thrive, with many efforts aimed at unifying those separated by religious and economic differences.
Back in Berks, there is as always much happening at Alvernia. A full slate of lectures is already in place for next year, with the Arts at Alvernia Series also being finalized. Retiring Congressman Jim Gerlach has accepted our invitation to deliver the Second Annual O’Pake Lecture on Nov. 10. He has been a devoted public servant and a good friend to Alvernia, and we will use the occasion to thank him, especially for his role in helping secure major funding for the Holleran Center’s South Reading Youth Initiative.
We also have commenced negotiations to finalize a strategic partnership with Learning House, a national firm that works with universities of our size to develop and deliver competitive online programs. Many faculty and administrators had the opportunity to meet with Learning House representatives in June to better understand their approach, with very favorable reactions. We expect to launch five online degree programs in 2015 (undergraduate RN-BSN, Business, Healthcare Science programs; a Master’s certification in Special Education; and an MBA with specialization in accounting), with others to follow by January of 2016.
Thanks to the hard work of many, and the leadership of Provost Shirley Williams, the initial draft of the Middle States self-study is complete. It will be revised and improved over the summer and will be available to the campus community for review this fall. Formal board approval is required in December prior to submission to the Middle States Commission. The reaccreditation team visit is now scheduled for Feb. 8-11, 2015.
You can read more about other important campus developments and the June board meeting in this newsletter. Please follow the links at the bottom of each page or jump to a specific section through left-hand navigation.
Stay cool, and enjoy the rest of the summer.
Peace and All Good,